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Cowboys practice highlights: Sean Lee returns; Lance Lenoir stands out; Lights come on for LVE

All the highlights from yesterday’s Cowboys practice in Oxnard.

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NFL: Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Practice Recap: Sean Lee Returns - Staff,
For the first time since training camp started, Sean Lee mixed into the competitive portion of practice.

On the 19th day of training camp, after a gradual increase in his workload, Sean Lee got in on the contact during the Cowboys’ Saturday practice. The All-Pro linebacker mixed into full-team drills for the first time this year after a lengthy wait to be part of the action.

“It’s just good to be out with the guys,” Lee said. “They have a process for me and I feel great. I think it’s working. So we’re going to stick to it. But man it’s nice being out with your teammates and being able to hit a little bit and be physical.”

Lee took reps in the early going of practice, but he was held out of seven-on-seven and the tail end of practice. Again, according to Lee, that’s all part of the plan.

“I just think there’s a process of introducing me to each thing,” he said. “And like I said, the trainers have an unbelievable plan of slowly introducing me, and I think it’s worked. We’ll just stay on that path.”

Randy Gregory participates in individual drills for the first time since 2016 – Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Randy Gregory's return makes the national headlines.

He will have to work his way into team drills before taking part in a preseason game, with the Cowboys ruling him out of Saturday’s game at AT&T Stadium against the Bengals.

“He has been here for a few weeks now,’‘ Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “He has worked very hard with our trainers and our strength guys on the side. He worked with coaches on the side. We felt this was our next step.

Randy Gregory takes part in individual drills for first time in Cowboys camp - David Moore, SportsDay
The Cowboys are working Gregory back slowly.

Given his long absence, and the fact Gregory could have no contact with the team until his reinstatement, the Cowboys adopted a deliberate plan. The early part of camp was spent on conditioning, working off to the side while his teammates practiced and attending meetings. He was then allowed to return to the walk through portion of practice in the mornings.

Now that he's put on pads for individual drills, the next step will be a full practice. The defensive end will need several of those before the club is comfortable letting him play in a preseason game, meaning it's unlikely his return will come against Cincinnati next Saturday.

Cowboys practice report: Sean Lee finally gets to take part as full participant – Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
Sean Lee and Randy Gregory hogged the headlines from camp yesterday, but Watkins offers us some insight on Dorance Armstrong and Lance Lenoir:

Dorance Armstrong: The defensive line got a jolt with 2018 fourth-round selection Dorance Armstrong getting second-team snaps in the last week. Armstrong got 30 snaps in the 49ers game compared to 12 for free agent signee Kony Ealy. Armstrong kept up the second-team reps again in team drills Saturday along with Taco Charlton. So far Armstrong is in the lead for major playing time with Ealy possibly on the bubble.

“I didn’t expect it,” Armstrong said of the second-team reps. “My work ethic shows and I think that’s what got me in this place and I’m coming out here and get better and keep learning.”

Lance Lenoir: One receiver who might claim a spot on the 53-man roster is Lance Lenoir Jr.

“Lance showed everything he’s been showing in training camp as far as playing every (wide receiver) position, playing special teams, making plays when he had to,” Lal said. “Love the touchdown catch (and) like all the receivers there were some plays where his technique suffered. A lot of times with Lance, because he’s playing so many reps, fatigue gets in too.”

Lenoir played 27 offensive snaps and five special teams snaps in the 49ers game. You could say he’s surpassed.

Star of the Day: Lenoir Stands Out - Staff,
Two stars for Lenoir and one for Vander Esch.

Mickey Spagnola: The kid just keeps catching pass after pass after pass, so can’t go wrong with putting that Star of the Day label on Lance Lenior Jr. Look, the guy had a nice preseason performance against the Niners, then he comes back out here in the next padded practice and stands out again in team and seven-on-seven. And once again makes another sideline, toe-tapping, diving catch during the team drill. Telling you, he is muscling his way onto this roster, causing either the Cowboys to keep seven receivers or costing someone their job if it’s six.

Nick Eatman: You’re starting to see the lights come on more and more for Leighton Vander Esch. The rookie linebacker not only had an interception in the team period down in the red zone, but he had other nice breakups in 7 on 7 drills. He’s certainly not without some struggles here in this first camp, but Saturday was another example of just how he’s starting find the football more and more.

5 observations from Cowboys camp - Clarence Hill, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Hill's camp summary focuses on LVE and the thinning wide receiver corps.

LVE: Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch didn’t [have] many highlight plays in the preseason opener against the 49ers. Free-agent signee Joe Thomas was actually the linebacker that turned the most heads in the game with five tackles and an interception. But Vander Esch got on the highlight reel in practice on Saturday with an interception of quarterback Cooper Rush and then running the length of the field to return for a touchdown.

Likely roster moves: The Cowboys will likely have to make some roster moves in the coming days to shore up the offensive line, receiver and safety position.

Guard [Marcus] Martin tore ligaments in his big toe and [is] facing possible season ending surgery. Even if he doesn’t have surgery, he would be out a while.

Receiver is a need in practice because Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson and Noah Brown have been nursing strains that kept them out of the 49ers game and then Marchie Murdock suffered an injury in the game. Neither are expected to return to practice and play against the Bengals on Saturday. Their absences are taxing all the other receivers in camp and the team needs some fresh legs.

Sean Lee glad to be back to practice - Todd Archer via Facebook
Here are three observations from Archer’s camp summary:

Dak Prescott: Dak Prescott completed 11 of 18 passes in team and seven on seven drills. He is now 87 of 123 for training camp [70.7%]. He opened the day with a crossing route to Terrance Williams, who went high for the pass in the middle of the field for the completion. He threw touchdown passes to Lance Lenoir and Williams in seven on seven work. He missed TE Blake Jarwin in the corner of the end zone. He tried to bait the defense with his eyes on RB Ezekiel Elliott out of the flat but wasn’t able to get the proper touch on the throw to Jarwin.

LVE: Rookie LB Leighton Vander Esch worked with the first team nickel defense as Lee continued to work into practice. Vander Esch took the weak-side linebacker snaps next to Jaylon Smith, which had been Joe Thomas’ role the first two weeks of camp as Lee worked to the side. Vander Esch had his first interception of camp on a late and soft pass over the middle from Cooper Rush.

Chaz Green: OT Chaz Green and DE Taco Charlton had three straight reps with Green easily handling Charlton’s spin move on the first snap. Charlton was able to power Green on the last snap. Green left practice after that with his dehydration issue.

Cowboys Practice notebook from camp in Oxnard: Dak, Rush & White 'Hangin' Out' at QB? - Mike Fisher, 247Sports
Fisher takes a look at the backup QB situation, and comes away only moderately impressed.

Cooper Rush played the majority of Thursday's loss, finishing by completing 15 of 23 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. He was an important part of Dallas claiming a 21-10 lead.

Rookie White, the rookie fifth-rounder, will probably not be graded so favorably. With White, it wasn't about the numbers -- 6 of 11 for 63 yards -- but more about the need for better throwing accuracy and quicker decisions.

I still think the likelihood is that Dallas keeps three QBs and that it follows a trend created in Dak's rookie summer, when Moore got hurt behind starter Tony Romo and the Cowboys opted to not spend to chase vet QBs like McCown or Foles, choosing instead to trust Prescott as the No. 2 ... and then Romo got hurt, leading to Dallas again trust Prescott, this time as the No. 1.

The Cowboys can end up being right on both Rush (more solid now) and White (maybe with more promise later). But at the moment?

It does feel like Dallas is, right now, "hangin' out'' just a bit at the position.

Cowboys 2018 training camp: Randy Gregory made his debut in today’s practice - Michael Sisemore, Blogging The Boys
Sisemore's social media highlights from practice are always worth a look as they provide a quick visual summary of what went on at practice. Three examples:

Observations from Oxnard - Staff, SportsDay
The Sportsday writers in Oxnard share there observations from camp via quotes from coaches and athletes as well as Twitter highlight reels.

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